The Head of State yesterday (March 17) paid tribute to Mr. James McFarlane Corry, a son of the soil, who was born in 1850 and is regarded as the ‘Father of Local Government in British Guiana’.
Corry was remembered at a commemoration service and wreath laying ceremony, held at the James McFarlane Corry Monument located at Old Road, Den Amstel, West Coast Demerara.
“James McFarlane Corry’s service has been little recognised and little valued over the years and if we went back over his life and his legacy, we will learn a lot about local government and communities,” President David Granger said.
The event was timely, as it was the eve of the long-awaited Local Government Elections (LGEs).
The President pledged to ensure that the monument erected in Mr. Corry’s honour becomes a part of The National Trust of Guyana.
Despite the efforts of the plantocracy to keep villages under their control, he started a countrywide Village Chairmen’s Conference, for which he was elected chairman in 1904. Mr. Corry served for 20 years until his death in 1924.
President Granger said, “Corry recognised 112 years ago that local government was a part of the governmental system, it was the first tier of government and that was the tier that was entrusted to the villagers, ” highlighting further that , Corry, who died in 1924, “bequeathed to us a rich legacy of leadership in rural communities; a rich legacy of stewardship, especially through the Congregational Church; a legacy of organisational ability, that without cell phones and transport, he was able to bring village leaders from Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice together for that Village Chairmen’s Conference every year”.
He started the first local Co-operative Credit bank.
Chairman of the Hague/Blankenburg Neighbourhood Democratic Council, Mr. George Nedd expressed similar sentiments, describing Mr. Corry as an ‘unsung hero’, whose achievements are underrated even in his own community, Den Amstel.